Client Access Licenses (CAL): 2 Important Changes in Microsoft Pricing Structure

Effective December 1, 2012, Microsoft will make two (2) important changes to its pricing structure for Client Access Licenses (CALs). First, the price is increasing by 15% for User CALs. Second, the price is increasing by 15% for User CALs – only!

User CALs are assigned to a person or process and authorize access to the server software to which they are associated regardless of the number of devices that person or process utilizes. Device CALs are assigned to a device and authorize access regardless of the number of users utilizing them. Microsoft has positioned User CALs as the better option for roaming, multiple device users, and BYOD. Device CALs have their place, though. Typically, in settings like warehouses where a larger number of employees use a few devices.

Until now, User CALs and Device CALs were priced exactly the same. The pricing difference is now another factor customers must consider.

For customers with existing Enterprise Agreements, Open Value Agreements, and their subscription counterparts – all pre-negotiated price contracts – the price increase takes effect at the time of their renewal. Select / Select Plus Agreements are transactional or “pay-as-you-go” pricing structures, so the price increase occurs immediately for holders of these types of contracts.

A sampling of the pricing impact for a customer needing to purchase 100 User CALs (assuming Select Plus Agreement, Level “A” pricing):




Core CAL




Enterprise CAL




System Center CML




Windows Server CAL




Source: Corp Select September 2012 price list

The additional cost can then be extrapolated onto longer-term investments for Software Assurance. Even customers with existing licenses will incur additional fees when renewing their Enterprise Agreement as the Software Assurance fee will be 25% of a license cost that is 15% higher.

The CALs affected by this pricing change are:

  • Bing Maps Server CAL
  • Core CAL Suite
  • Enterprise CAL Suite
  • Exchange Server Standard and Enterprise CALs
  • Lync Server Standard and Enterprise CALs
  • Project Server CAL
  • SharePoint Server Standard and Enterprise CALs
  • System Center 2012 Client Management Suite
  • System Center Configuration Manager
  • System Center Endpoint Protection
  • Visual Studio TFS CAL
  • Windows Multipoint Server CAL
  • Windows Server CAL
  • Windows Server RDS, RMS, Terminal Services CAL

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